Friday, January 15, 2021

Flowers in January

The amaryllis are getting ready to bloom. The photo was taken a few days ago and now the stalks are much taller and the buds plumper. In a few more days the buds will show some color and by this time next week the large orange blossoms will trumpet their arrival. The larger amaryllis hasn't yet started sending up its flower stalk. It always blooms much later than the others.

I have had the amaryllis for at least 15 years. I started with two pots of them, obtained at different times. Through repotting and divisions those two have multiplied into five pots of amaryllis. It's pretty easy to get them to rebloom and their brilliant blossoms can take the gray right out of a winter's day.

Once they quit blooming, I'll cut off the flower stalks and keep them in the plant room, watering them regularly so the foliage remains healthy. When the weather warms and quits freezing this spring they will go out to their summer home on the north side of the house.There they will remain until the weather starts freezing again. A dim corner of the attached, unheated garage becomes their winter home and I all but forget about them. They need no light, no water. The foliage dries up and the bulbs go dormant. 

Six to eight weeks before I want them to bloom, I bring them back into the warmth and light and start watering them. You also can hold amaryllis bulbs in the cool, dry dark until the weather begins to warm in spring. Then you can take them outside to revive and set them among other flowers and herbs in the garden for a brilliant, tropical display. They prefer morning sun.

If you want them to bloom by the Solstice or Christmas, bring them in at least by early November. I had hoped to have blooms by New Year's Day, but for some reason didn't get around to bringing them in until almost mid-December. 

No worries, though. I am grateful to be able to look forward to the large bright blooms on this cold, blizzardy day. 

I also am looking forward to the arrival of the first shipment of seeds today. I am hoping that another one arrives soon, as some things, such as the onions, will need to be started before the end of this month. The leeks, too, but I already have the seed for those.

Some of the other seeds I am looking forward to won't be planted until August or September. Those include winter radishes. I covered them in my last post, but didn't talk much about different varieties, focusing on the purple daikons (because I still have lots of those in the refrigerator). I also had the long white daikons, as well as Sichuan Red Beauty, which is red clear through. I thought Baker Creek had stopped carrying the seed, but this year it is listed under simply "Red Beauty Radish." So, Yay. I've also got seed for watermelon radish, with pink flesh surround by a ring of white, and an outer ring of green. Quite stunning as a garnish or when used as a "chip." 

A radish I will plant for the first time this fall is the Shawo Fruit Radish. These roots supposedly are sweet enough to replace fruit during winter tea parties in Beijing. I am looking forward to testing this.

I also will try some other vegetables for the first time this year... or at least my son and his fiancee will. I ordered the seeds and will get the plants going for them. These are the Indigo Rose Tomato, a pretty little cherry type, and the California Reaper Pepper. The California Reaper is the hottest, edible pepper. The only one that is said to be hotter will kill you, so the grower says. For myself, I ordered the Atomic Grape Cherry tomato, a prettily striped oval shaped cherry type. Will it nudge out the Sun Gold? I will let you know.

P.S. At the time I wrote this, Baker Creek had closed their Web site so they could catch up with all of the orders they've received this year. Be patient. Other seed companies also are experiencing slow downs. The pandemic has spurred greater interest in home gardening so they are being overwhelmed with orders.

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